As a fertility specialist in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), I’m grateful to be able to offer people a set of tools to help them along their way. Whether people are just starting their fertility journey or have been going through it for years, people seek out TCM treatment as a means of supporting their bodies, minds and spirits. Often times, it is women who seek our treatment and they have already begun treatment with a medical doctor. The focus in Chinese medicine, however, is on balance of the body’s natural processes and supporting it where it is at that moment.
It is imperative to understand that daily habits and years of repetitive practices have led us to our current state of health, which in turn affects fertility status. Here are 4 things I wish all women would know BEFORE trying to conceive:
HOW YOUR CYCLE WORKS Personal note: I almost minored in Women’s Studies in college because I took so many classes in the topic. Even so, I had NO IDEA how a woman’s menstrual cycle worked in “real life” until I started practicing acupuncture for fertility! Most women just start to understand this process as they try to get pregnant. For at least 3 months before trying to conceive, it is best to observe your menstrual cycle. How long are the cycles? (From period start to period start) How long do you bleed for? Are you noticing symptoms of ovulation? When does ovulation typically occur? Understanding how your body works gives you insight about the general balance of the body’s energy.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE MATTER! TCM is a 3,000-year-old medicine. If I had to boil down all it’s lessons, it is that food choices DIRECTLY AFFECT bodily functions and that you must sleep. In TCM, diet governs the quality of energy and blood that circulates throughout the body. Poor diet choices lead to more imbalances within the body whereas healthy diet choices maintain a healthy balance! Sleep is often under-rated in terms of its importance but the truth is that sleep is the time where the body can heal itself. Acupuncturists often ask their patients about the quality of their sleep as insights to their overall health, and work to ensure our patients start getting good quality rest.
YOU CAN BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR FERTLITY HEALTH Once most women start trying to conceive with little success, they feel more helpless as time continues. They might try to do their best with diet, lifestyle, supplements and follow all their doctor’s instructions but still feel like they’re at the mercy of some outside force. Of course, there is no absolute control when it comes to getting pregnant, but I always remind my patients that their habits and choices are VERY POWERFUL in helping them achieve their goals. I see this most often when patients have to wait to start a round of treatment with their doctor and they feel like they’re not “moving forward”. This is a time when I remind them that their acupuncture treatment, stress-relief techniques and supplements are powerful and important pieces of their journey. A popular analogy is that we must “tend the soil before we grow the garden”.
TRUST YOUR BODY It is very easy to believe what a professional tells you about your body and to ignore your own intuition. While doctors and nurses (and acupuncturists) are all educated in medicine, you are the expert in your own body. Therefore, if you find something that is concerning or doesn’t seem “right” make sure to find a team of professionals who can help you. It is important to never feel dismissed in any area of your health that is concerning to you.